Just say no to endnotes. 14

Footnote or "fingernote" either way this MS has it right.

Can we all agree that endnotes are simply awful? They are annoying at best and, when reading electronic texts that are not hyperlinked, downright damnable.1 Footnotes, on the other hand, are convenient, easy to read and do little to interrupt the flow of the argument. I believe we should stand up for our rights and demand that publishers only use footnotes. Are you with me? Huzzah!

  1. This is in no way a criticism of a computer product with an unfortunate name. []

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14 thoughts on “Just say no to endnotes.

  • Steve Brady

    Just to provide the counterpoint, I have heard/read that the reason for “end” rather than “foot” notes has to do with the flow of reading directly–you want to discourage the reader from leaving the current flow to read something tangential, and instead have them go back, and look later.

    Actually–while I have been a rather loud proponent of using footnotes to convey paranthetical/tangential views, the other voice out there argues that if something is not directly related to the argument/discussion at hand, it shouldn’t be inserted at all–otherwise include it in the body of the text itself. (or, an appendix.)

    • Chris Brady Post author

      I certainly agree with your second paragraph and had a good chat with a college friend on FB about just that. Well, it was with regards to LARGE footnotes/endnotes. If there are more than a few sentences then they should either be in the body of the text or an appendix.

      I agree with general line of the “flow” argument, which is why I (and so far everyone colleague in my discipline with whom I have discussed this) argue for footnotes. They are there to provide context and reference. A quick glance down tells me what their support is for the statement and I continue on with the argument. (Or perhaps a caveat, but that too I think should be in the body.)

      With endnotes you have to go to the back just to see that it is nothing more than “Ibid., p. 12.” And at least for me, going back later doesn’t work, because I need the context for that random note “Of course, we all know what Albrektson said on this point, (1971, p. 123).” No, remind again what that point was? Oh, back on page 74 of this text I was reading? Hang on, let me scroll/flip back to that page…oh OK. #hairpulling

      (I am still not sure if I really like the hastag thing or deplore it.)

      • Steve Brady

        Ahh okay. You are talking about when footnotes/endnotes as commentary are interspersed with citations.

        I suppose I am a bit too close to the other style for citing. In the referencing styles for the disciplines for which I write, we include citations “in line” as you did with Albrektson.

        • Chris Brady Post author

          Yes, there are certainly different styles of citation. With most publishers in our fields footnotes/endnotes are a combination. Eg:

          7· Among many other books, the ten volumes of the Feminist Companion to the Bible (first series; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993-96; all are on Hebrew Bible/OT, but the last volume is on the Hebrew Bible in the NT), edited by Athalya Brenner, are notable. A second series has recently begun to appear.

          8. This is still done, in different ways, by J. D. Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterra11ean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1991).

          BTW, that is from Bauckham, Richard. Gospel Women : Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2002. 🙂

    • Kerry

      Incidentally, when I read a text with endnotes, I mark that page with my thumb and flip back and forth otherwise I’ll get lost in a text. Somehow the author or editor in the books that do this seem to think that translation information should belong in an endnote, which annoys me to no end when I don’t know the word or phrase.

      As a student, I support footnotes, especially when loaded with interesting information.